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Swine flu still an issue: WHO

Swine flu still an issue: WHO article image
Global deaths from swine flu (the H1N1 virus) have risen by more than 1,000 in a week, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). More than 7,800 people have died from the virus since it was first discovered in April. The Americas recorded a death toll rise of 554 cases in one week, while Europe saw an 85 percent jump in cases, where deaths increased from 350 to more than 650 in the week. The jump in northern hemisphere cases corresponds with the onset of winter and the flu season there. Mutated strains of the virus have also been discovered, with health authorities in Norway and France each recording two fatalities from a mutated strain of H1N1. China, Japan, Norway, Ukraine and the USA have also recorded cases of people being infected with a mutated strain. "What we're trying to do when we see reports of mutations is to identify if these mutations are leading to any kinds of changes in the clinical picture - do they cause more severe or less severe disease?" said Keiji Fukuda, WHO special adviser on pandemic influenza. "Also we're trying to see if these viruses are increasing out there as that would suggest a change in epidemiology." WHO director-general Dr Margaret Chan has called for international solidarity to provide equitable access to pandemic influenza vaccine for all countries. Final preparations are underway to distribute donated pandemic influenza vaccines to 95 low- and middle-income countries to help prevent severe disease.

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